The invite came in the mail a few weeks ago and I had put it on my mental calendar to attend. Unfortunately, you all know how unreliable my mental calendar can be at times with my shoddy memory. It will sometimes need something to jog it and that's just what I got with the latest issues of the Juice. That was what reminded me of the 22nd Annual Pork BarbeQlossal at the State Fairgrounds this past weekend.
G and I had just gotten back from seeing "Land of the Lost" so the timing could not have been better. It was dinnertime. I was hungry. It was before 7pm. Oh yeah...I started this new thing where from now on I can't eat anything after 7pm. Apparently it's supposed to be better for the whole weight loss thing that I'm toying around with. Anyway, that's when I remembered I had gotten an invite from my old high school buddy Wahl about this event and to come out for some free food Friday. You didn't have to tell me more than once.
I had talked to Wahl about his competition bbq venture on several occasions. However, I had never gotten a chance to sample any of his food or even see him in action. One opportunity did present itself was when Spanky and the Meat Mafia (his competition name) competed in Kansas City and I was slated to be in town for the mini-reunion, but things didn't pan out. One way or another, I told him I would get to one of his events. This time around was when it came to be.
The State Fairgrounds look completely different when the renown Iowa State Fair isn't going on. For one reason, I just assumed that the rides on the midway stayed there. At least the large ones. Not so much. All of the core buildings were there, but the midway was pretty much a huge, empty parking lot. You could tell they were getting everything ready for the fair's impending presence though because many of the vendor tents were already lined up along the Fairgrounds main drag. Or maybe they're always like that and I wouldn't know because I've never been to the Fairgrounds when it wasn't State Fair time?
At any rate, I had no idea where I was going. The Juice did give the location, but I didn't know the building's names and locations from Adam. I texted Wahl for directions. He told me to just keep going south. And to look for the pirate flag. Not too helpful. Until I happened to look up into the distance and saw said pirate flag waving proud from his RV.
I have to say that I was impressed with how serious Wahl was about the whole thing. I have never fancied myself to be a bbq king. I can't even bbq at all. I just do a little grilling here and there. But even with as little as I do know about it, I never knew how much dedication and knowledge it actually took to do it right until talking to Wahl about how he does it. Things such as having a heat thermometer for the meat that smokes all night and keeping it at bedside in the RV to make sure the food comes out pretty close to flawless. Just the tip of the iceberg for how he does it.
The part I had been looking to the most though was trying out his food. Unfortunately, he didn't have any more of the award-winning wings by the time I got there. What he did have was some short-end ribs, pulled pork, sausage with jalapenos in the center and other delicacies. As hungry as I was, I couldn't do everything so I stuck to the ribs, pulled pork and sausage.
All of the food was absolutely incredible. Especially the ribs. The meat was done just right so with every bit, it nearly fell off what little bone there was. Both those and the pulled pork were complemented perfectly by Wahl's sauce. I was a bit leery to try the sauce because I've been completely spoiled by my Gates. However, Wahl's had a different flavor to it. It wasn't as spicy and had a sweeter taste. Very nicely done.
The actual competition was going to be the next day so Wahl wasn't the only competitor there getting an early start. There was one cat set up just yards away from Wahl, trying to intimidate with his trophies all out and his huge sign hanging above. I don't even remember the name. I just recall seeing his Cockatoo bird (at least that's what I think it was) in the cage going to town on a rib. I tried to catch a pic of it handling its business, but everytime I tried to snap the pic, the stupid thing turned away from me until it finally dropped the rib altogether.
Wahl runs his own blog dedicated to the Spanky escapades and you can check it out under my Blogging Against the Machine category to the right. You can also see the mini-photo album I created from the event named 22nd Annual Pork BarbeQlossal. I highly recommend that if any of you happen to come across Spanky and the Meat Mafia in a bbq competition nearby one of your locales that you check him out. If you ever have problem locating him among all of the other contenders...just look for the pirate flag!